- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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Paul Konerko had been expected to get a start in Thursday’s homestand finale against the Boston Red Sox, but, instead of taking the place of Adam Dunn in the DH spot, Konerko will get to play first base for the first time this season in place of Abreu.
It will be just the second start for Konerko, who was the DH at the Kansas City Royals last week.
Abreu is mired in a 1-for-21 slump as he struggles to hit major league breaking pitches. After a hot start, during which Abreu hit four home runs, batted .300 and carried a .725 slugging percentage through 10 games, pitchers have started to expose weaknesses.
"You might be tired. You’re seeing new [pitchers], and they might be getting a report. But you go back in the cage, work on it," Ventura said. "The hardest part of all this is that baseball is relentless. It's every day of being able to gear back up and, when you’re not feeling quite right, to be able to go out and perform.
"He’s got certain pressures on him that probably other guys don’t have, so today’s a good day to just give him a day."
The White Sox open a three-game series at the Texas Rangers on Friday, and, while the pitching won’t relent, perhaps Abreu will benefit from a warmer climate.
Abreu’s batting average is down to .217, while his on-base percentage is at .324. He still has a .500 slugging percentage, tops among American League every-day first basemen.
"He has a lot going on and has been adjusting to different things," Ventura said. "This is the right time to give him a day as we go out on the road. You give him the day and a breather and let him get back at it."
Konerko is also learning to adjust as he comes off the bench now. Six of his nine at-bats came as a pinch hitter, and the only hit he has collected all season came on the first pitch he saw.
"In almost every game we've had, I've been on the verge of hitting, on the verge of getting in the game," Konerko said. "So you're prepared from about the fifth inning on. I'd say the first three or four innings feel like a normal off day, but from about the fifth inning through the rest of the game, you're paying attention to everything. Every guy that gets up in the bullpen, every pitch that's thrown, every score, you're really paying attention.
"My switch is never really off. Physically, yeah, sure, there's always something there, but you just do the work, prepare and you try to be ready. It's different, but there are people that are good at it and accomplish it, so you have to think that it's possible."